Friday, September 24, 2010

Building Better in Haiti

As Aaron stood at the gate with the lady and her baby, to say it was a hard moment would be laughable.

What word do you use to describe a situation like the one Aaron and this lady found themselves in?

There are times when words fail, and this is one of those times.

He could not take the baby and let this woman walk off.  We knew that was not the answer.

However, it also seems wrong to send a woman away with a baby that she just tried to give away.

Aaron felt sad, confused, shaken that he had no answers, on top of being worried about what would happen to this tiny baby in the dirty towel.  In good conscience how do you send a woman away with a baby she just said she did not want?

He felt a sense of responsibility towards this baby and her mother, but that did not mean he had any idea what to actually, physically, tangibly do.  We have never thought through what we'd do if someone handed us their baby.  In that heartbreaking moment, I can't describe what it felt like to sift through a huge pile of "thoughts" as a woman waited there...for a answer...her baby and her eyes right in front of us.

Remember Monsters Inc. That scene where one of the monsters is learning to scare children?  Remember how they could pause the scene, stop and critique it?  Oh how I wish we could have taken our shocking, sad, scene at the gate, hit pause and then have an expert panel critique and discuss how we should have handled this new, difficult situation.  How I wish we could go back and fix some things.  Handle it better.  Shock is a strong emotion that we haven't experienced often enough.  We could not think clearly and had no idea what to do.

We're so new in Haiti we are still figuring out how to drive. I'm still trying to figure out how to not turn into a Yetti since shaving with cold water is not appealing to me.  I'm trying to figure out how to have a period in this country without crying every time I go to the bathroom.  We're still trying to figure out what it looks like to have sex as a married couple when we're hot and I hate shaving.  Hot as in sweaty...not hot as in Bradgelina.

That's the honest truth.  Maybe too honest, but a woman tried to give us her baby the other day and so in true Haiti fashion, everything...every single thing...every emotion...every's all like an open scab.  Everything feels earthy.  Real.  Honest.  There's no hiding here.  Reality jumps on you, seizes you, looks you straight in the eyes and with a loud, intimidating growl shouts, "Deal with me.  Deal with every single part of me."  Unfortunately reality is not very polite here.  It doesn't wait until you're all settled in to start banging at your door.  Oh no.  Reality decides when and where it will be reckoned with.  Reality showed up uninvited as we held that sweet baby in our arms last weekend, and it downright intruded when a mother showed up at our gate and pushed her tiny baby towards Aaron and begged him to take her.

It would be easy to never talk about real, personal issues on this blog.  We could easily fill your minds and eyes with stories and pictures of big things that God is doing in Haiti...even ways our family is getting to be apart of those spectacular ministries.  That's tempting.

Maybe the devil is in the details, but Jesus is in the every day.  We may have moved to Haiti, but that did not change the fact that our marriage matters.  The kids in our house matter.  Sex is important.  It's hard for me right now to feel like an ugly, unattractive troll.  I'm not sure what to do with that.  We're asking God to allow us to be a part of something big and beautiful in Haiti, but I'm just as much asking him to meet me here every day as I slowly but surely learn to live in Haiti, die to myself, and seek first God's Kingdom as a woman, wife, and mother in this country. Before we are missionaries, adoption advocates, or parents, we are unfortunately human.  Very human.

We hope God allows us to be a part of turning hearts towards Haiti, but we also want to do it with honesty.  We don't want the focus to be on us, but we also want to always be clear...very clear...that we are not super humans living and serving in Haiti.  We're ridiculously flawed people in need of grace and faith. I don't see that changing any time soon.  Our story is wrapped up in this story.  It's wrapped up in Haiti.  But all of these stories, I hope and pray are pointing  to God's Story. He owns every word, every piece of this and I pray He is ultimately made known through Haiti and our family.

It's been difficult the last few days to equally want to help these babies and to also have to admit we can't do something this big right now.  We're people who hate excuses.  They get on our nerves.  We know that Americans tend to think that every star has to line up in order to ever move forward.  We know that as a group, Christian Americans have to admit that we play it too safe.  We want everything to work out just perfectly and the moment things are hard or difficult it must mean God isn't in it. I wonder how loudly Jesus would have laughed at our thought process as He was living on earth 33 years, far removed from the comfort of heaven.  When Jesus was dying on the cross I wonder how offensive it would be to Him as we Americans stamp "not God's will" on all things "hard, stressful, painful and sweaty."

We don't want to be people who love excuses and comfort more than we love living by faith and following Jesus' example for ministry on earth.  We believe that excuses can't stay excuses forever, or even for very long.  We're asking God to move us to quick heal the parts in us that are broken.

But for now, I don't think we're going to take a baby.  It's too big.  We love adoption, and honestly look forward to being a part of adoption again.  For now, we have no idea how long God wants us to be in Haiti.  We're asking Him to solidify some things in our soul about how long we're supposed to stay here.  Taking in a baby hinges on how God answers that question.

For now we have to learn  how to do the basics in this country before we even consider bringing a baby home.  If not, we're afraid of the extra stress it will put on us as a couple and on our kids.  Have I mentioned that it's already stressful and a lot of work to live in Haiti?  I know that won't always be the case.  One day we'll know our way around better.  One day we'll be better with the language and be able to hold our own in conversations with Haitians.  One day we'll get back to our American level of dysfunction when it comes to our marriage and parenting.  One day sweaty will be the new normal.  We see improvement almost exponentially in those areas as each week goes by in Haiti.  We have great hope for each of these areas, but we know that each of these things have felt a direct hit and are experiencing culture shock.   

For now, we're asking God to continue to reveal sin in our hearts, selfishness, and fear.  To solidify in our souls the reasons He brought us show us how to love the poor and the orphan in Haiti. We're asking God to build a strong foundation in our life here in this new country before we dive into the kind of ministry we believe God is calling us to be a part of and many of you to be a part of as well.

We've only been here a little over a month.  Some things must be in place before we start doing crazy things like taking in a baby.  God may call us to do that but until a stronger foundation is laid, we think we'd be jumping the gun.

It's been good to identify some areas where we need to continue to grow before physically tackling "more" in Haiti.  They may be uninteresting to you, but I'm writing them down because I will need this reminder.

Discipline in God's Word and Prayer
Aaron prepares to teach four Bible classes a day in Haiti.  He is on Bible overload at the moment.  He's loving it.  I on the other hand am still struggling to find consistent time in God's Word.  If you know me at all, you know how big of a deal I think this is.  My kids wake up at the butt crack of dawn in this country, and that used to be my time.  I'm working on finding a time that works best.  Apart from God I know nothing good can come from us being in this country.

Discipline in Hearing God's Word Taught and Preached
Praise God for Matt Chandler and the internet.  I just listened to him for the first time in a long time this week.  I need to listen to a sermon every week.  Church has been different here.  Not different/bad.  Just different.  There's no nursery.  I miss part of the sermon or Aaron does every week as we try to train Hudson to stay in church (or not stay in church, it's completely up in the air right now what we're actually teaching him.)  I have to learn to be disciplined to sit my own butt down and make time to hear God's Word taught and preached.

Family Discipleship
This is getting better and more consistent in Haiti.  The last thing Aaron wants to do is move his family to Haiti, teach Bible every single day to students at QCS and neglect to daily teach his own children God's Word.  We're finally getting back in the groove of this.  QCS is filled with children who get solid Bible teaching every single day, and yet many of their hearts are far from God.  We're thankful that our children's teachers love God and teach them a lot of the same things we are trying to teach our sons at home.  However, we've been reminded since we've been here, that it is our job (specifically Aaron's job) to teach our children the character of God.  It would  be easy to punt this to the school, but God commands us as parents to see this as our job, not the school's job and not even primarily the church's job.  It's our job to share the gospel with our kids and teach them firsthand what it looks like to love God and love the things God loves.

Community and the Church
God has graciously hammered into our heads over the years that community is important.  The church is important.  Thankfully we are growing in community here and we are getting connected to a local church.  Actually it's so local it's in our front yard.  To do anything big and beautiful here in Haiti, we need a strong community with our friends and church back home, and we need a strong connection with our church here.  Although very new to us, God is good and is providing a lot of growth in this area.  We've identified older/wiser people in our church who we can go to for wise counsel.  These people scare the crap out of me.  Their lives are selfless and the way they love people is almost frightening to me...frightening and attractive at the same time.  Scripture is clear...God desires to work through His church...through His people. God has graciously taught us the value of being a piece of what God is be intimately connected, like family with believers around us.  We're seeing this happen around us in Haiti. 

Our Marriage
We're finally getting past me constantly whining about Haiti, and constantly apologizing for whining. Like I said, sex has suffered, and let's all get real...that means everything else has as well.  I get mad.  Aaron pouts.  I'm sorry for being mad.  Aaron is sorry for pouting or even caring about this since he knows it's been hard and frustrating for me to adjust here.  We both feel bad for making the other feel bad.  We're trusting that God wants us to have a hot marriage...even in Haiti.  And by hot I do mean Bradgelina this time....not hot as in the sweaty, stinky kind.  We're going to continue to fight for this.

Knowing how to meet our basic needs...
Bottom line:  We still have a lot to learn in order to meet our most basic needs and the needs of our kids in this new place.  I need to know how to drive by myself.  I need to find the hospital, the pediatrician's office...things like that.  It's coming along, and we're begging God to keep us on this fast track of learning what it looks like to live in Haiti...the real Haiti.

Until those things are better, we're not jumping into much more around us.  And by better, I don't mean perfect.  What a joke.  I just mean back to where they were when we got to this country. Growing again...not suffering.  The last thing we want to do is come to Haiti to sit around and focus exclusively on our kids, our marriage, and our own relationship with Christ.  Those are good, but those things are simply tools that God wants to use as we reach out and live out the gospel and the Great Commission in Haiti.  Those are tools God wants us to use to care for the poor, the oppressed, and the orphan.  They are gifts that God has given we were meant to share.

All of these thoughts, this giant mountain of personal issues...some good, some understandable, some neither of those things went through our minds as we frantically dealt with the sad scene at the front gate.

Aaron called a friend of ours.  He runs a Children's Home.  He told Aaron to send the lady his direction.  He'd find her some help.

Mom and baby walked away...down the street.

They never made it to the Children's Home.

To be continued...

This post is already too long, and the truth is...there's only so much reality a brain can take in for one day.  My mind is tired.  My soul is exhausted.


MamaJenny said...

Wow. That's a lot to deal with.
I remember a time in my life when someone was having a problem and I was so sure I could solve it. I waited for the Lord to give me the go ahead to fix it for them. Then a few weeks later, I watched his hand guiding someone else in helping that person in need. It was obviously inspired of him, and I felt humbled. How could I think that I was always the answer?
I then realized that in being a tool in God's hand means that I am ready to work when he wishes to use me. Not, that I will be the perfect tool for every job, and I was reminded that there are many people out there that need the opportunity to be apart of his work.
I've decided that instead of beating myself up for everything I don't seem to be able to do, That I am going to work hard to be ready and willing to do whatever he tells me to do. To know that he will guide me on my path and will not let me stumble if I'm truly trying to follow him.
It must be heartbreaking everyday to see all that needs to be done in Haiti. It's heartbreaking enough from afar. Just remember that all of us are in this together, many of us are trying to "lift up the hands that hang down" in our different places of mission. We may not be able to do it all, but God is greater then us all and he will choose the tools to work his miracles.
On a more personal note: I don't know all the particulars, but have you tried boiling some water and making yourself a foot bath? Rest your feet in a tub, then roll up your clothes as much as modesty allows at the time and shave? It would probably help you feel more "hot." I am continually amazed at how the way we as women feel about ourselves affects everything we do, and all our relationships. It is really an important thing.

Susan, wife of 1, mother of 4 said...

Heather, you are amazing. I LOVE your honesty! I LOVE how you wrap it all up with your love for Christ and what He wants you to do. You wrote so well about what it's like to leave what you know, and adjust and make a difference, when you are so busy adjusting that it's hard to understand how to make a difference, especially in a country that overwhelming needs SO MUCH.

I think that you have prioritized well. Of COURSE Satan is out to attack you! I have been praying for you, and I'm so happy that God has answered some of my prayers.

BELIEVE that you ARE making a difference - or at the very least, you are following God's will for your life, and somehow, in the big plan, it will be used for good. Rewards are coming your way!

I'll pray for your marriage, your life there, and for God's plan to become more clear to you.

As an aside, I TOTALLY hear you on the cold shower! That would be one of my hardest things! I also hear you on the lack of morning quiet times. The day just doesn't feel right, doesn't work well without it. I'll pray for you.

Thanks for such an awesome post! It's a privelege to pray for you guys.

Melissa said...

1. I have learned that just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean that it's what God wants you to do at that moment - and that doing it might keep the one He wants to do it from being able to. Back when our church had a choir, we desperately needed nursery workers. I COULD work in the nursery, but there were more people who would be more comfortable loving on a baby than up on stage singing. My taking that nursery slot might be excluding them from that ministry.

Sometimes, He just wants to make our hearts ready so that when the time does come, we'll be ready to move. Now that we don't have a choir anymore, I'm free to help in the nursery, and other ministries like media. There may be a day when He wants you to take one of those children into your family, but now may just be a time of readying your heart for the idea and considering the additional logistics of adoption in Haiti. I have prayed a lot the past few days that you guys would know which it was.

2. Do you have access to body lotion? I've used lotion and a razor to shave when I haven't had hot water (or very much time). It's a bit of a pain to keep the lotion wiped off the razor, but it works beautifully. Hair conditioner works equally well, maybe better because it's thinner and a little easier to work with.

mandi said...

I have a lot of thinking going on while reading this. But, while it's in my brain, let's talk about sex. Wait, that came out wrong. Well, anyway, more specifically- your hairy, yettie self. I'm thinking you took along some coconut oil, yes? Lyns hooked you up with some? You can use that and no water to shave. You'll have to rinse the razor, but you won't have to put water on your legs. It may feel yucky with the humidity, I'm not real sure on that. But, you'll smell like a sexy tropical lady, and that could only help things, right? : )

I feel really shallow, only addressing the shaving issue. But, that seemed pretty important too. I mean, MamaJenny really said it- didn't she? I don't think I could add anything more. : )

love you

Wheeler Family said...

Your transparency is amazing. I can't wait for Sunday to roll around so that we can lift your name up as a group with our life group at church. You will be prayed for more! God will do great things to and thru ya'll.....

MamaofMany said...

Praying for your family. And that mom and baby. Praying. Praying. Praying.